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Flannigan-Fowles makes impression with 49ers on, off field

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The 49ers have one undrafted player with no NFL regular-season experience on their roster for the 2020 season opener.

He is not a rookie -- only because he spent his first season out of college on the 49ers’ practice squad before going on injured reserve in December with a foot injury.

His name is Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles.

He started 36 games as a safety while remaining in his hometown of Tucson to attend the University of Arizona from 2015 to ’18.

Flannigan-Fowles earned a spot on the initial 53-man roster over the weekend with his talent, adaptability and how he handles himself off the field, 49ers general manager John Lynch said.

He first got on the 49ers’ radar when vice president of player personnel Adam Peters and then-assistant coach Miles Austin attended Flannigan-Fowles’ pro day in March 2019. 

“We were looking for kind of a hybrid safety-linebacker guy, and they came back really excited about him,” Lynch said.

He chose to sign with the 49ers instead of the Indianapolis Colts after going undrafted.

As the 49ers open their week of practices to prepare to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday at Levi’s Stadium, Flannigan-Fowles is one of just five linebackers on the team’s active roster. Fred Warner is on the reserve/COVID-19 list.

Flannigan-Fowles has a chance to make an immediate contribution -- if not on defense, then on special teams.

Flannigan-Fowles showed a lot of promise with his practice performances this summer at middle linebacker both in the run game and in pass coverage.


“And aside from being a real talented athlete, he’s done a nice job from making the transition from the safety position to linebacker,” Lynch said. “He is a top-rate person and human being and the way he works is as good as it gets.

“So we’re real proud of him. We think he’ll be able to contribute in a big way on special teams and will always keep improving because he’s relentless to be the best that he can be.”

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Before Warner went on the COVID-19 list last week, he spoke glowingly of Flannigan-Fowles.

“He has the right mindset,” Warner said. “He’s one of the guys who is the first one in the building, the last one out and I have nothing but good things to say about him. He’s getting everything he deserves right now. 

“I’m just so happy for him he’s such a great athlete and has that physically you want to see from a safety transition to linebacker. Can’t say enough good things about Flan.”